Most of us have either been lucky enough to have known, or at least have heard about, a remarkable mentor or leader. A leader who has the unique ability of drawing lessons from the most mundane or common place situations.
As we develop, whether as leaders or simply in pursuit of a better version of ourselves, the most critical lessons can be sitting right in front of us. The challenge is in our awareness of them.
Leadership gurus Warren Bennis and Robert Thomas in their book ‘Geeks and Geezers: How Era, Values and Defining Moments Shape Leaders’ (Harvard Business School Press, 2002) argued that successful people learn to become leaders from life’s experiences; the smaller occurrences of everyday life.
However, rather than just ‘experiencing’ moments, good leaders do two things differently: firstly, in what they make of the experience – ‘what one takes away from it, how one distils it, and arrives at a solution that is sensitive to the context of the experience;’ and secondly ‘to actually engage in acts of leadership that become model acts for others.’
As practiced by successful people, it is how we encode and activate our experiences that leads to greater learning and ability.
‘Both the ability to lead and to teach others about leadership depends on how well we develop and use two qualities: awareness and sensitivity.’ This theory is explored further in an interesting article by Baba Prasad.
Now, during my days, I have the pleasure of meeting with a wide variety of professionals faced with an even wider array of circumstances.
But of late, one of the most common interests/discussion points has been the hit TV show Game of Thrones!
And I am happy to report that even in the Seven Kingdoms, leadership lessons can be found. So for all my GOT-addicted colleagues, this one is for you!